‘It’s just the start’: Souttar ready to build on dream Socceroos debut
Towering Socceroos defender Harry Souttar says he cannot wait to build on his dream start to life in Green and Gold as he looks ahead to what is shaping as a massive year with both club and country.
Souttar made his Socceroos debut in November, 2019 and has played in two of Australia’s 2022 FIFA World Cup™ qualifiers against Nepal and Chinese Taipei.
The 198cm centre-half scored four goals across the two fixtures to rapidly cement himself as a cult figure in the Australian squad, but as soon as the experience began it was over for Souttar, who returned to England desperate for another taste of action in the national camp.
“The whole week I was away just went so fast,” Souttar said.
“The first game [against Nepal] and the game against Chinese Taipei away, it just went so quickly and I was back here and playing at the weekend for the club.
“I didn’t really have time, it was only when I went home a month after I went away when I saw my Mum and watched the game back.
“To see how proud she was, that was a really good moment for me especially to watch the game back and see her reaction to it as well.
“It was a dream come true to score the goals that I did, hopefully I can be involved in future camps and show the manager what I can do on and off the pitch.
“I’m looking forward to it - hopefully it’s just the start.”
Souttar built on his whirlwind initiation in the Socceroos camp with an appearance in Graham Arnold’s squad which took on Jordan one month later to notch a fourth win in as many games on the FIFA World Cup qualification trail.
He was an unused substitute on that occasion, but Souttar says he will grab every experience he is offered with both hands as the 21-year-old looks to build on the overwhelmingly positive time he has spent in and around the group to date.
“They’ve been superb, everyone from the playing staff to the coaching staff have been superb with me,” Souttar said.
“It helps that there’s a lot of British-based boys that are playing in England and Scotland. You get the same flight over so you get to know them quite well.
“Everyone looks out for everyone, it’s a nice chilled group, there’s no big egos. Everyone’s on the same page. It’s made it so easy for me to settle in.
“I’m still a youngster, I’ve still got to earn my respect from some of the boys who’ve had unbelievable careers.
“I’m not a big loud person to come in and do a lot of talking, I just listen to what the lads have got to say and take the experience that I can from them and learn from them like I do here at Fleetwood.”
Much like his international career, Souttar is revelling in his time at club level with Fleetwood Town, gaining much-needed experience in a professional environment which he says is helping him grow as a player and a person.
The Cod Army are soaring up the English League One standings on the back of their stellar form from the turn of the New Year, and Souttar has his sights set firmly on getting better as a player while helping his current loan side push for promotion to the Championship.
“I think the January additions we’ve brought in have helped us kick on again,” Souttar said.
“You can see it with our results since January – moving up into the playoff [positions], but there’s still a lot of football to go.
“If you can get consistency you’ll be there or there about, so we’ve just got to keep challenging, keep taking it game-by-game and hopefully we’re up there at the end of the season.
“It was important for me to come out again this season and play men’s football, something I said at the start of the season. I wanted to play men’s football, professional football.
“I’m thankful I managed to come to Fleetwood and do that.
LOCAL LAD: 'Special moment' driving Taggart ahead of Socceroos return to Perth
LAST THREE GAMES IN WA: History hints at fruitful night against Kuwait in Perth
“In terms of learning, the whole thing has been a learning experience. It’s just my third loan in men’s football. You’re still learning every day, you’re still learning new things about the game and people’s new ideas about how the game should be played.
“The whole thing has been a massive learning experience. If I can take that knowledge and put it to my game then it’s going to benefit me and hopefully benefit my career.
“After this season I’ve got three years left at Stoke [Souttar’s parent club], but I’m not really concentrating on that just now. All my focus is on Fleetwood and seeing how we can go this year.”
With one eye on Fleetwood’s promotion push, Souttar has the other eye trained on the Socceroos’ upcoming World Cup qualifier against Kuwait in Perth on March 26.
The Scotland-born defender hopes to be involved in his third Socceroos squad and make just his second visit to Australia, and a trip to Perth will hold a little extra meaning for Souttar whose familial ties to the city add sentimental value to a fixture in which he hopes to earn his third cap for his national side.
“My sister moved out there a couple of years ago and had her first child there, my little nephew Jack, he was born in Perth,” Souttar said.
“It will be nice for them to watch it on the TV I think.
“It’s exciting going back [to Australia]. I’ve only been to the country once and that’s when I played so to be back again and hopefully be involved playing more football and showing what I can do.
“Hopefully as a team we can get another three points and move closer to the next stages of qualification.”
If Souttar can feature for Arnold’s squad once again in Perth, all eyes will be trained on his aerial threat which has become somewhat of a signature of his game for the national side in his two appearances thus far.
It’s what garnered him an impressive four goals across those two fixtures and a cult figure status among the adoring Socceroos fans (especially on social media) which brings Souttar plenty of joy, despite the stick he receives from his friends and family as a result.
“I’ve been getting bagged for it from my mates back home,” he said.
“It’s a good bit of fun to be fair, my brother especially has sent me every single one of them he’s seen on Twitter.
“Certainly they give me a good laugh to be fair.
“It’s funny, some of them are really funny and it gives me a good laugh, hopefully they can keep coming.
“I’d rather that than them slagging me or slating me, so I’ll take it all day long.”
FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 second round qualifying
Australia v Kuwait
Thursday, 26 March 2020
Venue: HBF Park, Perth
Kick-off: 6.00pm local, 9.00pm AEDT
CLICK HERE TO BUY YOUR TICKETS NOW!
Nepal v Australia
Tuesday, 31 March 2020
Australia v Chinese Taipei
Thursday, 4 June 2020
Australia v Jordan
Tuesday, 9 June 2020